Welcome to the December 2020 edition of the Raine Study Newsletter.
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Research News from the Raine Study

December 2020

Welcome to the December 2020 edition of the Raine Study Newsletter. As the year draws to a close, it’s fair to say that the phrase “what a year it’s been” really was written with 2020 in mind. Without ignoring the immense amount of change, uncertainty and hardship that the pandemic has wrought in Australia and around the world, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank our Raine Study research community for your ongoing support and commitment to all that the Raine Study stands for – advancing knowledge, enhancing lives.
 
In this issue we extend a warm welcome to new Raine Study director Professor Romola Bucks at the same time as we bid adieu to outgoing director Professor Peter Eastwood. We recap our 13th Annual Scientific Meeting, held for the first time as a virtual event, and celebrate the achievements of some of our early career researchers.

December/January Mandatory Shutdown Period
The Raine Study office will be closed over the Christmas and New Year holiday break from Saturday 20 December 2020 and will re-open on Thursday 7 January 2021. 
 
As a result, any new projects submitted between now and mid December will not be approved before late January. Please consider the 6-8 week time period needed for project approvals and submit project applications as soon as possible, particularly if related to a grant/fellowship application, to ensure they receive the required Raine Study approval before the submission deadline.
 
Related to this, any data access requests submitted in ROSS during the month of December will not be delivered till late January.
 
For a full description of the project and data access request approval process, please visit the ’For Researchers’ section of our website.
 
As always, if you have any questions please email [email protected] and we will respond as soon as we can. 
 
We wish you and your loved ones a safe, happy and healthy holiday break. 
Farewell Peter Eastwood

By now you will likely have heard the news of the departure of Raine Study director Professor Peter Eastwood to take up his new role as director of the Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute in South Australia. Peter’s last official day with the Raine Study will be Friday 18 December. All of us at the Raine Study wish him well. We are enormously grateful for his vision and hard work. Keep checking the website and social media for a celebration of all that he has helped the Raine Study achieve over the last eight years.
Welcome Romola Bucks

Peter was delighted to introduce his successor, Professor Romola Bucks, to the Raine Study community at the Annual Scientific Meeting on 30 October. 
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Romola is no stranger to the Raine Study having been involved in Raine Study-based research over the last 10 years. You can read the official details of her background and appointment on the website, but we thought it might be fun to get a little more up close and personal with Romola with a quick Q&A:

If you could work with 3 of the world’s greatest ever scientists (living or dead), who would they be and why?
Before joining the Raine Study, one of the people I’ve wanted to talk with for some time now is Raine Study founder John Newnham. I’ve had a chance to get to know him in the last month, but I still want to learn how the study was transformed from that first randomised control trial of ultrasounds in pregnancy to the most successful longitudinal cohort study in the world. That’s vision! I have not yet had a chance to meet Fiona Stanley, and I look forward to asking her what advice she has for me in my new Director role. Finally, not a scientist, but a key player in the Raine Study and the Raine Foundation is Mary Raine. She sounds like a wonderful character with much to teach me. If I could go back in time, I’d like to have a drink with Mary in the Windsor Hotel and find out more about her journey.
 
What data set or potential research topic has fascinated you most about the Raine Study, and influenced your decision to apply for the director role?
I’ve spent my career focussing on risk factors for dementia. Thus far, the scientific and medical worlds have considered risk factors that arise in middle-age. The thinking is that what we do in our 40s and 50s influences how healthy our brains are in our 70s, 80s and 90s. To an extent, this is true. But, I have always thought that what affects our well-being in older age is likely to be things we have done (or not done) much earlier in life, perhaps even factors that impacted us before we were born. Generation 2 of the Raine Study are now in their early 30s. The Raine Study has the potential (particularly if we can collect new data before they are 40) to address my hunch. Our Raine Study participants have been with us since before they were born. There is no other longitudinal health study that offers the potential to explore risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias from before birth, across the entire life course, but particularly in childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. Yes, that does mean that the Raine Study needs to maintain contact with our participants and find funding for another 40 or 50 years!
 
What do you think has been the most important/momentous scientific achievement/advance/invention of the last 30 years, and why? 
I suspect I am supposed to say something about how we can now map the human genome, but I won’t! I have been a scientist for the last 30 years and what I’ve experienced during that time is exponential growth in our capacity to store and analyse very large data sets. The birth of ‘data science’ represents the most important scientific advancement of my career. That’s because we are now in a position to explore the sorts of in depth, longitudinal data that we have in the Raine Study in ways not conceived of in the late 1980s, when the mothers of Generation 2 were recruited. We can now track how pain, depression, vision and hearing change over the course of someone’s life, at an individual level: previously, we could only do so for the group as a whole. We can then explore how those individual trajectories of change are associated with multiple health outcomes, helping us to understand why some people have better outcomes and some worse. We can do this high-level statistical modelling on a laptop using freely available software. Such advances not only make our science more powerful, but they also democratise our science by making it more accessible the world over. 
New Scientific Director coming soon

Interviews are now taking place with shortlisted applicants for the position of Scientific Director – we’ll share the news of the appointment just as soon as we can. 
Updates required

As you may have heard, ROSS (the Raine Online Submission System) now has an updated interface for user profiles. Amongst the changes, it enables researchers to update their involvement in Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and affiliations. It also allows you to change your email address and password without needing to contact the Raine Study team. You can make these changes at any time by logging into ROSS and clicking on Manage Profile on the left hand side menu.
Information needed/we’ll H/T you back

One of the key factors involved in maintaining the Raine Study’s reputation is the quality of the research produced using Raine Study data. We’re required to keep records for reporting purposes, so are always looking to hear about the latest publications, presentations shared at conferences or events (online as well as in person), and Honours, Masters or PhD theses/dissertations completed using the Raine Study resources – please send us an email with this information at any time, even if it’s just a link. 
 
Likewise, if you’re actively promoting your Raine Study-based research on social media, please remember to tag the Raine Study: Twitter @RaineStudy, LinkedIn and Facebook @therainestudy. It’s one of the best ways for future Raine Study researchers to learn about your work and what the study might offer them. Thank you in advance!

In case you missed it...

#RaineStudyASM2020 goes virtual
The 13th Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM 2020) took place on Friday 30 October. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the event was held online via Zoom for the first time. Our team decided to take this challenge and make this a hybrid event by inviting our Perth-based researchers and guest speakers to present from the Raine Study offices while hosting other speakers and streaming to attendees across Australia and around the world.
 
On the day, 16 early career researchers from across our academic and institutional partners, around Australia and internationally, presented in 8 minute timeslots on topics ranging from mental health and sleep to fertility and pain, all based on research using Raine Study data.
 
More than 80 attendees logged into the ASM online, and we hosted another 40 guests in person at the Raine Study throughout the day including our session chairs, guest speakers, session markers, staff and friends of the Raine Study. 
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An edited recording of the 5 hour event, divided up into shorter blocks, will be posted to the website and shared via social media. We urge you to check out as many of the presentations as you can to learn more about the way in which your Raine Study data is furthering health and medical research on a global level.
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Best Early Career Research Presentation Award Winners
A big thank you to our marking panel at the ASM who had the challenging task of picking which of the early career researcher presentations was best on the day. Judging criteria included presentation style, effective use of time (8 minutes to present with 2 minutes for Q&A) as well as conclusions and research findings.

Two winners were each awarded a $750 prize from the Raine Medical Research Foundation - Dr Chau Jillian Thien Tay from Monash University (below left) and Dr Samantha Lee from Lions Eye Institute (below right) for their presentations on polycystic ovary syndrome and ocular epidemiology respectively. 
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Samantha has since gone on to win the 2021 Strachan Memorial Prize for the best published research by an early-career clinical researcher at the annual Raine Medical Research Foundation Awards Ceremony. Her publication Associations between optic disc measures and obstructive sleep apnea in young adults (Ophthalmology, 2019 May 17) formed the basis of her ASM presentation, utilising Raine Study data. Click through for more details.
 
Congratulations to Samantha, Jillian and all our early career researchers for such a high standard of research and presentations. 
Webinar series celebrating 30 years of Raine Study research underway
Many thanks to the Raine Study Special Interest Group leaders and researchers who have helped us launch our new webinar series celebrating 30 years of research impact by the Raine Study. Developed as a way of enabling our cohort participants to stay connected to the researchers they have interacted with over the last 30 years, the first two events covered Mental Health (August) and Physical Activity (September), and featured Dr Monique Robinson and Associate Professor Ashleigh Lin (Telethon Kids Institute), Dr Paola Chivers and Professor Beth Hands (University of Notre Dame Australia). We’ll be resuming the webinars in early 2021 with planned topics including Diet and Sleep.

Staff updates

Communications Manager
Kate Rowlands has joined the Raine Study as Communications Manager, taking over from Liz Rehfeldt who has taken on a new full-time position with St John of God Healthcare.
 
Kate brings 25 years of experience as a media and communications advisor in Australia and internationally to the role, working with organisations as diverse as Microsoft and Thermomix, as well as research organisations, start-ups and non-profits in Perth and around Australia. Kate believes passionately in the power of storytelling to help any organisation have impact, and looks forward to sharing more of the Raine Study’s incredible story with as many people as possible in 2021 and beyond.
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